Understanding patient's social and emotional needs 

Patients with palliative care needs will have emotional, psychological, social and spiritual needs. Psychosocial assessment informs a holistic understanding of the person in their social and cultural context to help guide the development of individual care plans.

Assessing for support and care

Psychosocial assessments are often undertaken as part of a patient's admission to a palliative care team, palliative care unit or hospice. Initial assessments are often undertaken by nurses, who may then arrange a referral for more comprehensive assessment and specialist support (e.g. social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist), if appropriate. This support can come from within the palliative care service if available.

In the community, if a patient is under the care of their GP, psychosocial assessment may not be undertaken formally. Psychosocial needs may be assessed by other health professionals as part of their role, and if issues arise (e.g. patient distress, anxiety, relationship concerns etc), a referral may be made for specialist support to a hospice or palliative care team, or to a generalist health professional in the community.

Last updated 06 September 2021